Anna Paquin fol­lows “in­ter­est­ing” work right home to Canada

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

TORONTO — Os­car-win­ning ac­tress Anna Paquin of “True Blood” fame says she didn’t de­lib­er­ately set out to work so much in her birth coun­try — Canada — in the past year.

The Winnipeg na­tive, who grew up in New Zealand and be­came a star in Hol­ly­wood, says she just goes where the work is good. And right now that’s here, with the up­com­ing “Alias Grace” minis­eries and the new CBC drama “Belle­vue,” which pre­mières Mon­day at 9 p.m.

“I don’t re­ally think about what kind of work I’m do­ing and where in such a con­scious way, as far as, ‘Oh, I want to go do TV in this coun­try’ or ‘I want to do a movie here’ or what­ever,” said Paquin.

“I read ma­te­rial and if I re­spond to it, that’s great. It just so hap­pened that I ended up do­ing two shows for Cana­dian tele­vi­sion backto-back ... I just go where the in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and ma­te­rial is and right now, that was here in Canada.”

“Belle­vue” stars Paquin as Annie, a fear­less de­tec­tive with a wild past in a small bluecol­lar town. When a trans­gen­der teen goes miss­ing, Annie goes to great lengths to in­ves­ti­gate along­side the po­lice chief, played by Shawn Doyle.

Writer Jane Maggs and vet­eran pro­ducer/ di­rec­tor Adri­enne Mitchell cre­ated the se­ries, which also stars for­mer “Down­ton Abbey” star Allen Leech as Annie’s on-again, off-again ex.

“I moved back here from Los An­ge­les in 2010 and it just so hap­pened, when I moved back for the first num­ber of years, I did Amer­i­can projects all over the place, not in Toronto,” said Doyle, a Wabush, N.L., na­tive who’s made a splash on se­ries in­clud­ing “Lost” and “Big Love.”

“And then I guess the trend is shift­ing in this coun­try and I feel like we’re start­ing to — once again, be­cause it’s hap­pened be­fore — that we’re start­ing to take pride in our own sto­ries and that we un­der­stand that we can com­pete on the global mar­ket­place in terms of qual­ity and pro­duc­tion value and in­ter­est­ing, great writ­ers we have here,” con­tin­ued Doyle, who’s also in the new se­ries “Fron­tier,” which was largely shot in New­found­land.

“We’re start­ing to un­der­stand that if we can be spe­cific to a Cana­dian story, that that speci­ficity will trans­late uni­ver­sally. Be­cause it’s just hu­man sto­ries at the end of the day, so it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to see that hap­pen­ing, that we’re re­ally own­ing all the colours that we can be here in Canada.”

The Canada de­picted in “Belle­vue” is a bleak min­ing com­mu­nity that’s fallen on hard times and was also struck by a killer 20 years ago. Annie’s fa­ther was a cop on that case but couldn’t solve the crime and ended up com­mit­ting sui­cide.

“That had a re­ally pro­found ef­fect on her and she kind of went off the rails, so to speak, for a while, but has chan­nelled all of that level of risk-tak­ing and pas­sion and need for a high-in­ten­sity life into a job where that is ac­tu­ally a ben­e­fit — even though it means some­times she breaks the rules a lit­tle bit,” said Paquin, who won an Os­car at age 11 for “The Pi­ano.”

Shoot­ing on “Belle­vue” took place in and around Mon­treal from Septem­ber to De­cem­ber.

In her down­time, Paquin was “a prodi­gious” knit­ter, said Doyle. Turns out she was knit­ting pink hats to wear in last month’s Women’s March in Toronto.

“I find it very sooth­ing,” said Paquin, who posted pho­tos of her­self at the march on her Twit­ter ac­count. “The sym­bol­ism of a peace­ful protest that is brought to­gether by a whole bunch of peo­ple knit­ting hats, I think is kind of fan­tas­tic as far as tak­ing things that are large and ter­ri­fy­ing and scary that are hap­pen­ing po­lit­i­cally in the world and turn­ing it into some­thing em­pow­er­ing and pos­i­tive and beau­ti­ful.”


Anna Paquin as Annie Ry­der and Shawn Doyle as Peter Wel­land in CBC’s “Belle­vue,” which pre­mières Mon­day at 9 p.m.

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